The Netflix series The Queen’s Gambit came out just slightly over a year ago, and then took the world by storm. I remember seeing so many references to it on Twitter, and then when people would ask “Hey, what show is that from?” the posters would immediately reply with something along the lines of “The Queen’s Gambit! You have to watch it it’s amazing!” And with a score of 97% on Google, 96% on Rotten Tomatoes, and 8.6/10 on IMDB, it seems that people widely agree that it’s a great show.
I ended up watching it in November of last year if I remember correctly, and I really enjoyed it! The storyline was solid, the characters were well written, the actors did a phenomenal job, but what I remember most about the show a year later is the costume design.
So in this post, let’s take a look at 3 fashion lessons we can learn from The Queen’s Gambit. Don’t worry, there will only be very mild spoilers in this post, so if you haven’t seen the show yet you can still enjoy reading this. However I do highly recommend the show, especially if you need a short series to binge watch this autumn.
1. Incorporate your hobbies or interests
Beth Harmon is an avid chess player and has an obsession with the game. For her, chess goes beyond being simply a hobby or an interest, but that doesn’t mean we can’t apply her style technique to our own hobbies or interests.
You see, being as interested in chess as she is, chess motifs end up in her outfits. Throughout the series she showcases a love of checkerboard pattern clothing, to match the checked pattern of a chessboard. From small, barely noticeable black and white squares to large prints of alternating colors, she knows how to incorporate her love of chess with her love of clothing.
Beyond just the checkerboard pattern that we see, she also incorporates a lot of square motifs in general, also showing up in the occasional gingham, grid, or plaid pattern.
2. Experiment with new trends when you want
In general, when it comes to trends I see one of two things being encouraged: either following trends entirely and without question OR an entire disregard of trends and an insistence of developing a wholly unique personal style. Both of these extremes, in my opinion, are impossible to stick to.
Following every trend you see without question is entirely unsustainable, both on a personal level and on a global level, for hopefully obvious reasons.
But on the other hand, we don’t live in a vacuum and to pretend that a personal style can be wholly unique and developed without any outside influence is delusional. We are always being influenced by external factors whether we realize them or not, and to completely avoid trends just to be contrarian is, in itself, a form of following trends.
Instead, it should be up to every individual to find their own balance when it comes to participating in the cycle of fashion.
As Beth did, keep your sense of style a personal one, by knowing what colors you like, how you want to incorporate your interests into your style, but also allow yourself to experiment with the trends that capture your eye or spark your imagination.
3. Don’t be afraid to embrace your femininity within your style
Lastly, if you find yourself drawn to style elements that are more feminine in form, don’t be afraid to embrace them. There is nothing inherently wrong with femininity, just as there’s nothing inherently wrong with masculinity or androgyny. To be feminine isn’t to be weaker or less intelligent. It is simply being feminine.
Despite chess being a male dominated sport, Beth isn’t afraid to be glamorous. She isn’t afraid to embrace her femininity and openly enjoys “girly” things such as clothes shopping or experimenting with makeup. And when asked about whether her open femininity reduces her ability to play, she calmly dismisses the notion.
I’m not sure how universal this experience is for other women, but I distinctly remember being girly when I was little. I was obsessed with Barbie movies, I loved pretending I was a princess, and I enjoyed being that way. Then around the age of 7 or 8 I started to try to shift my personality and interests to be less girly because I started to learn that girlishness would be treated differently, as less than. Rather ironically, this was a notion generally pushed by other girls and women. I can’t recall any experience in which a boy or a man denounced femininity to me personally but I can remember a few experiences in which a girl did so. And in the online sphere, though I have seen some misogyny come from men in certain circumstances online, it’s only been within the past two or three years of my social media use, whereas I’ve seen the “not like other girls” trope be pushed on girls and women, by other girls and women, around since the time I started using social media.
So I’ve spent the past few years learning how to re-embrace my more feminine interests, and to be unashamed of doing so. I’m not perfect, sometimes I still catch myself questioning if I’m a frivolous person because I enjoy learning about clothing, styling, and fashion history. Or if I’m superficial for wanting to learn how to style my hair. But then I remember that femininity doesn’t make anyone less of a person. Our interests and tastes are valid.
Femininity does not mean a lack of intelligence, wit, or determination. Beth’s interests in clothing and makeup don’t prevent her from being a brilliant chess player. It certainly feels refreshing to me to see a show that allows its strong female character to be openly feminine!